Getting behind the wheel to drive an RV can be nerve-wracking. There are a lot of extra things to think about in order to safely get from point A to point B, and you definitely don’t want to do anything to hurt your home-on-wheels, let alone your family.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep both your family and your rig as safe as possible. Choosing not to follow closely, avoiding driving in heavy rain or high winds, and making sure your RV is not overloaded (and is loaded properly) are some of the more important considerations.
Another consideration? Making sure you choose an RV-friendly route.
An RV-friendly route is one that avoids super steep grades, which can be difficult for a big rig to climb and could cause you to lose control on the descent. Such a route should also avoid low-clearance bridges that might swipe off the top of your trailer or motorhome.
Not sure how to make sure you avoid these things? Here are our top tips for doing just that.
First, we recommend purchasing and using RV Trip Wizard to plan all of your travel routes. This handy tool will alert you of hazards such as low-clearance bridges. It also has a feature that allows you to see elevation changes, as well as how steep a climb is.
Other features of this wonderful tool include a huge database of campgrounds and campsites, the ability to calculate when fuel stops will be needed and add them into the trip, and even a way to figure out exactly what a particular trip is going to cost.
An RV-specific GPS is another great way to ensure you don’t run into any steep grades or low-clearance bridges. You could choose to purchase a GPS device made specifically for RVs, or you might just download an RV GPS for your smartphone.
- As far as devices go, we recommend a Garmin RV GPS. These awesome gadgets tend to give the most accurate information, something that can save you from a lot of frustration and even potentially hazardous situations.
- Prefer an app? For this we like the RV Life app. This app pairs with the RV Trip Wizard tool, and even lets you transfer routes directly from one to the other.
Either way you go, your new RV GPS should put you on roads without road hazards, and either option will allow you to download routes, something that is crucial when driving through the middle of nowhere.
Because driving through the middle of nowhere happens often when RVing, and because technology isn’t always reliable, it’s a good idea to have a hard copy of a Truckers’ Atlas on hand. These hefty books are chock-full of great travel information, including how steep grades are and whether there are any low-clearance bridges along a given route.
Being able to cross check your GPS against this book—or use it as a backup should the GPS give out on you—might just be a lifesaver.
Another great option is to use the Mountain Directory books, ebooks, or app. These offer super easy-to-read info on each and every grade in the country. The information is incredibly accurate, making this another excellent cross-reference—and if you get a hard copy of the book, it can also be a good backup to the GPS.
Want to make sure you’ve covered all your bases? LowClearances.com is another great resource. This website provides information on over 7000 low-clearance bridges in the US. Their database can be added to nearly any GPS device and is compatible with a number of navigation apps, meaning you can plug all of these bridges into whatever GPS you use and rest assured you won’t run into something you can’t fit under.
Obviously, you will also want to pay attention to what the signs are telling you as you drive down the road. Construction work and traffic accidents can change the layout of a road pretty quickly, meaning that while it’s unlikely you will run into trouble if you’re using the tools mentioned above, it is still possible. Signs should let you know of these changes so you can stop and find another route before it’s too late.
By putting these tools to use, paying attention to signage, and knowing the height of your rig and what it can handle in terms of grades, you should be able to choose a route that is safe and comfortable for you. Of course, it’s also a good idea to have roadside assistance ready and waiting to help you should something go wrong.
Why not grab these tools, sign up for roadside assistance, and start planning your next trip today?
About the author: Chelsea Gonzales
Chelsea has the amazing opportunity to take part in full-time RV living and traveling with her tiny tribe. She homeschools her five-year-old son as they travel, and takes full advantage of their unique situation by using the entire world as her son’s classroom. A group of total Disney fanatics, Chelsea and her family often find themselves in the Orlando area in order to visit the Disney parks, but they have also visited over 25 of the 50 states with plans to see many more along the way. No matter where her travels take her, Chelsea enjoys riding bikes, gazing at beautiful sunsets, finding new coffee shops, Irish dancing, and sitting around a campfire with her family.
You can join her adventures through her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander.
Ramon O. ~ “The follow up calls were great and you can tell that the agents on the phone really cared and made sure and followed through on my service request. The first person who took my car was very reassuring and let me know that I would be taken care of. Great customer service”